The Cause of the the Servant of God
Sr Françoise-Thérèse (Léonie Martin)
The Cause of the Beatification and Canonisation of
the Servant of God Sr Françoise-Thérèse (Léonie Martin),
sister of St Thérèse of Lisieux and the third daughter of
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin was announced
by Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger, Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux
on 2 July 2015. The process was opened at the Visitation Monastery
in Caen in France where Léonie spent her religious life.
On 21 January 2017 after Mass presided over by Bishop Boulanger
the body of the Servant of God Sr Françoise-Thérèse,
which had been exhumed in 2015 from the original tomb in the crypt,
was placed in a new tomb in the Monastery Chapel.
Numerous individuals and pilgrim groups continue to come to pray to the Servant of God, to ask for her intercession and to pray for her Beatification and Canonisation.
Léonie Martin (1863-1941), the third daughter of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, was born on 3 June 1863 at 15 rue du Pont-Neuf in Alençon. She was christened Marie Léonie in the Church of St Pierre de Monsort in Alençon where all St Thérèse's brothers and sisters were baptised. Later the family moved to 35 rue Saint-Blaise, where St Thérèse was born; St Thérèse was baptised in the Church of Notre-Dame in Alençon, now the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Léonie had a difficult early life - a matter of concern to her mother as is evident in Zélie's letters.
After the death of her mother in 1877, the family moved from Alençon and Léonie came with her father and sisters Marie, Pauline, Céline and Thérèse to live in Les Buissonets in Lisieux. It was here in 1883 that Thérèse was cured from a mysterious illness by the Virgin of the Smile. Léonie was in the room at that momentous time. Years later in 1897 Léonie represented the family at the funeral of St Thérèse in Lisieux.
Following a number of setbacks Léonie achieved her wish to live the religious life. She became a Visitation Sister in Caen, taking the name Sr Françoise-Thérèse. She was an ardent follower of the Little Way of her sister St Thérèse.
After the death of Léonie devotion to her spread especially among parents and many people visited her tomb in the crypt of the Visitation Monastery in Caen. In advance of the opening of the Cause of her Beatification and Canonisation her body was exhumed from the original tomb in the crypt and is now in the new tomb in the Monastery Chapel.
Sr Françoise-Thérèse (Léonie Martin), on the right,
with her sisters Sr Geneviève of the Holy Face (Céline), Sr Marie of the Sacred Heart (Marie)
and Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline) when they met in 1915 - as religious - in the Lisieux Carmel
during the Process for the Beatification of Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Léonie Martin was born in Alençon on 3rd June 1863. Her father, Louis was a jeweller and watchmaker, who married Zélie Guérin an accomplished lace maker. They were canonized in 2015. They had nine children - seven girls and two boys and had hoped to have a son a priest. Only five of their children survived infancy and early childhood: the family was given the grace of having all five - Marie, Pauline, Léonie, Céline and Thérèse enter religious life.
On 28th June 1899, Léonie entered the Monastery for the third time and she did, indeed, remain there!
Léonie in the Visitation
Léonie was happy, she seemed to have emerged from a long tunnel and she entered into Religious Life, confident that Thérèse would help her. On 30th June 1899, she received the Habit of the Visitation, and this time took the name of Sister Françoise-Thérèse. She made her Profession on 2nd July 1900. She said that the day of her profession was the best of her life. She wrote “The following day when I awoke, my joy was so great at being able to press my Profession Crucifix to my heart, this Cross which has cost me so much.”
Over the years, Léonie held many different posts in the Monastery, but always as an assistant. She loved to be unnoticed, “I long to disappear, to hide and to be counted as nothing. To be little is my happiness and my strength.” Thérèse’s book “The Story of a Soul” was her bedtime reading. There Léonie found solid Salesian spirituality.
She loved Jesus very much. In the morning when she puts her Crucifix on her pillow she says: “You have enough worked, enough cried, enough suffered, it’s up to me.” She had a great hope of eternal life, to be with Jesus. She said “I’m dreaming of Heaven! When will the beautiful day of eternal gathering come?”
The end of her life
Within the Church, St Thérèse of Lisieux is seen as a brilliant rose whose fragrance extends to the ends of the earth. Léonie on the other hand is the humble violet, whose gentle perfume envelops, strengthens and calms the hearts of all who call upon her.
To quote St François de Sales,
NOVENA PRAYER TO THE SERVANT OF GOD,
Lord our God,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Imprimatur: +Jean-Claude Boulanger, Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux (January 24, 2015)